The Slatest

Today’s Impeach-O-Meter: Trump Grows Obstructive as Mild-Mannered Senators Tighten Noose

Mitt Romney and Rob Portman
Mitt Romney and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman in Avon Lake, Ohio in 2012. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The original Impeach-O-Meter was a wildly subjective and speculative estimate of the likelihood that Donald Trump would be removed before his term ended. Republicans have since established that there’s nothing that Trump could do to lose their support, making a conviction in the GOP-held Senate inconceivable. But as evidence of the president’s criminal unfitness for office continues to accumulate, an increasing number of Democrats are willing to say that he should be held accountable, at the least, via impeachment proceedings in the House. So we’ve relaunched the Impeach-O-Meter as a (still wildly subjective and speculative) estimate of the likelihood that the House votes to impeach Trump before the end of his first term.

The big developments on impeachment:

• Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who represents a state where Trump has relatively strong support but who is also the kind of avowed Reasonable Republican who is, privately, probably really tired of dealing with his antics, told the Columbus Dispatch that there was nothing wrong with what Joe Biden did in Ukraine and that it was “inappropriate” for Trump to ask the country to investigate a political rival. (Caveat: Portman also said Trump’s behavior did not rise to the level of being “impeachable.”)

• A “[Mitt] Romney advisor” told Vanity Fair that the Utah senator is excited about having “power” as “a senator who will decide Trump’s fate in an impeachment trial.” The magazine says Romney “has been reaching out privately to key players in the Republican resistance” in recent days.

• A Washington Post–Schar School poll found that Americans support the launch of an impeachment inquiry by a 58 percent to 38 percent margin and would support the House voting to recommend removal from office by a 49 percent to 38 percent margin. Notably, the poll found that 28 percent of Republicans supported the inquiry and 18 percent would support voting to recommend removal.

• Trump blocked Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, from making a scheduled deposition to the House Intelligence Committee. Previously released text messages show that Sondland was enthusiastic about pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden (and to investigate Trump’s vague claims that Ukraine was involved in a conspiracy against him in 2016).

Let’s not overthink things here. The public supports Trump’s impeachment, and some Republicans are going out of their way to make clear that they won’t defend the conduct he might get impeached for. At the same time, he’s acting like he has something to hide. Meter up!

The Impeach-O-Meter is set to 85 percent.
Illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo and Lisa Larson-Walker/Slate. Photos by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, and Peter Parks-Pool/Getty Images